The Times’s response to my critique: learning to lower my expectations

Below is my Feb. 20, 2015 email to New York Times Deputy Executive Editor Matthew Purdy.

Dear Mr. Purdy:

For the record, here’s my point by point response to your response to my article in Real Clear Sports:

I expected that some might dismiss my credibility as a journalist because I acknowledged the help of a first-rate reporter for a Florida State fan site who pointed me to information in the public record. I did not expect that the Times would resort to such a transparent evasion of the facts. I am learning to lower my expectations.

I did point to inaccuracies. For example, the oft-repeated claim in at least seven Times articles that the police did “virtually no investigation at all” is demonstrably false.

Much more important, I pointed to the systematic exclusion from the Times’s very extensive coverage of the Jameis Winston rape allegation of a mass of exculpatory evidence casting grave doubt on the accuser’s credibility. This evidence showed that the accuser has made multiple inconsistent and false statements apparently designed to conceal the very considerable (although not conclusive) evidence that she consented to sex with Jameis Winston.

It is extremely revealing that the Times invokes Justice Harding’s finding that “I do not find the credibility of one story substantially stronger than that of the other” — which my article quoted with approval — as justifying your omission of almost all of this exculpatory evidence.

Indeed, discerning readers will infer that the Times’s pattern of misleading omissions can be explained only as a deliberately deceptive effort to smear the thrice-cleared Winston as a rapist.

In contrast, you have not pointed to a single error or misleading statement in or omission from my article.

Prosecutors who fail to disclose exculpatory evidence are properly condemned and sometimes disbarred. Journalists should be held to the same standard. They are supposed to be in the truth-telling business.

As you know, but contrary to your implication:

–My article quoted Dean Baquet making your response’s second point: “Baquet further stressed Justice Harding’s refusal to adopt Winston’s lawyers’ claim that the accuser ‘intentionally fabricated an elaborate lie’ and Harding’s finding that ‘trauma, stress, anxiety, or the like can affect a person’s memory which can possibly improve with time.’ ”

–My article quoted verbatim all of the findings by Justice Harding that your response quotes and is completely consistent with them.

–I wrote: “It’s true that the police made serious errors, as State Attorney Meggs has complained.” I also added details, including the police failure to locate the video before it was destroyed.

–I quoted Dean Baquet saying that “[w]e believe your premise is fundamentally wrong” and that “we took no position on whether the sexual encounter … was rape or consensual sex.”

You did, of course. Implicitly, if not explicitly.


Stuart Taylor